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Evolution and Human Behavior


  • Gordon Tullock



The simple economic approach to human behavior is inconsistent with many human actions. Firstly we engage in very considerable charitable gifts to strangers, people who are not related to us. We also risk our lives, or some of us do, sometimes for the benefit of collective entities like nations. This is not only a deviation from simple maximization for the individual and hence uneconomic, but would appear to contradict the general principles of evolution. At first glance these traits should have been selected out. Looking back to primitive times it can be seen that both of these activities had evolutionary value then and hence have been preserved, although maybe they will be eliminated after a number of generations of modern society. Hamiltonian altruism led to gifts to people who were members of tribal groups and to neighboring tribes. With the improvement in communication, these gifts, albeit small gifts, are much more widely distributed. The preservation of the territory of a tribe also had evolutionary value and hence the willingness of individuals to take risk to that end. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

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  • Gordon Tullock, 2002. "Evolution and Human Behavior," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 99-107, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbioec:v:4:y:2002:i:2:p:99-107 DOI: 10.1023/A:1021160521931

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christopher Boehm, 2004. "What Makes Humans Economically Distinctive? A Three-Species Evolutionary Comparison and Historical Analysis," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 109-135, May.
    2. Frederic Pryor, 2003. "What Does it Mean to be Human? A Comparison of Primate Economies," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 97-145, May.
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    Hamiltonian altruism; gifts; relationships; war;


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